"The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America," the president said.
Since 2005, investments in the clean energy sector have grown 230 percent, according to the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program. In 2009, $162 billion was invested in clean energy globally and analysts forecast that investments will climb 25 percent to $200 billion in 2010.
But despite the worldwide opportunities in the fast-growing industry, experts say the United States lags behind countries such as China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.
"The U.S. is missing the boat," said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program in Washington. In 2009, she said, China attracted $34.6 billion in clean energy investments, more than any other country. The United States during that same time attracted $18.6 billion, about half of China's total, she said.
When you look at the winners in this race, Cuttino said, they all have one key feature in common: a national clean energy policy.
The countries dominating the clean energy landscape have national policies to reduce global warming pollution and provide incentives for companies to use renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, but she said the United States only had a "patchwork" of state policies.
"We have a well-educated [population], a manufacturing base," she said. "We basically have all of the necessary ingredients to capitalize on a clean energy policy, but we need a policy."
ABC News' Dan Harris, Judy Isikow and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.